The Leaked Louis C.K. Set Is Tragedy Masked as Comedy

A year ago, the comic promised to reflect on his behavior after admitting to sexual misconduct. Now he’s making jokes about the inconvenience of empathy.
Megan Garber Dec 31, 2018
Louis C.K. in 2016 Kevork Djansezian / Reuters A little over a year ago, Louis C.K. published a statement in The New York Times , after several women had come forward to confirm the rumors that had, for years, been swirling around him . “These stories are true,” he wrote, expressing regret for several instances of sexual misconduct and suggesting that the acts being made public would be a turning point for him. His confession concluded with contrition: “I have spent my long and lucky career talking and saying anything I want,” C.K. wrote. “I will now step back and take a long time to listen.”
The statement was, for all its labored hand-wringing—a literary critic might think of it as foreshadowing—not an apology. It was instead, like so much of C.K.’s comedy, notably self-centered. In its nods toward introspection, though, the statement was marginally better than the half-hearted defenses offered by many other men of #MeToo, and so it was accommodated, in many quarters, with relief and a great deal of patience: Maybe he could learn. Maybe he could do better. Maybe he could find a way to make amends to the women whose persons he had disrespected and whose careers he had compromised. C.K., with more TK : Maybe. Maybe. Maybe.
But 2018 has been a year of hard truths, and here, just before the calendar turns its page to whatever fresh hell might lie in wait, is one more: C.K.’s promise to listen and learn, it seems, was itself a lie. On Sunday evening, instead, an audio recording of a recent appearance C.K. made, reportedly, at Governor’s comedy club on Long Island, New York, leaked on YouTube. The set suggests that while C.K. may have been up to a lot of activities over the past year, listening and learning have not been among them.
In the set—one of many unscheduled appearances he has made as part of a quiet comeback—C.K. makes jokes about the word retarded . (He bemoans being unable to use the word as an apparent compromise on his freedom of self-expression.) He mocks the activist students of Parkland, Florida, who have been trying to convert a personal tragedy into social good. (“You’re not interesting because you went to a high school where kids got shot. Why does that mean I have to listen to you ? How does that make you interesting? You didn’t get shot, you pushed some fat kid in the way, and now I gotta listen to you talking?”) C.K. also mocks Asian men, and black men, and nonbinary people. (“‘You should address me as they/them , because I identify as gender neutral,’” C.K. says, dripping with sarcasm. “Oh, okay. Okay. You should address me as there , because I identify as a location. And the location is your mother’s cunt.”)
It’s the kind of comedy that is so lacking in depth or insight that it’s not worth examining, on its own, in any more detail. What’s notable, though, is the broader implication the new jokes represent for C.K.’s alleged efforts at redemption . Over the years, C.K.’s comedy evolved, as any comic’s will, but at their best and most well known, his jokes were about interrogating himself as a means of interrogating American culture. As C.K. shuffled uncomfortably on stages and sets, clad in rumpled T-shirts and slouchy dad jeans, he served as his own act’s useful idiot: C.K., author and character at once, played the privileged guy who—he’d be the first to admit it—didn’t fully deserve his privilege. It was classic observational humor, bending its lens to examine the warped terrain of C.K.’s own psyche, and while it was winking and postmodern and self-hating and self-elevating, it also contained an implied transaction: Hearing C.K.’s confession would offer, for his audience, its own kind of reconciliation. His performed selfishness could seem, in its twisted way, generous.
But while offense, in that sense, has always been an element of C.K.’s comedy—offense as a means of inflicting discomfort, and thus, the promise went, of illuminating awkward realities—offense, now, is all there is. The layer of alleged truth-telling is entirely missing from the new material. C.K.’s new set, according to its leaked version, doesn’t merely punch down; it stomps, pettily, to the bottom. None of it is smart or brave; it is simply cruel. And yet it tries to justify itself by suggesting that C.K. himself has been the recipient of cruelty. One of the key moments of the leaked set comes when someone, either by walking out or by shooting him a look, seems to question C.K. as he complains about being unable to use the word retarded . C.K. responds with a rant:
What’re you gonna take away my birthday? My life is over; I don’t give a shit. You can, you can be offended—it’s okay. You can get mad at me. Anyway.
It’s an old story: The guy who abused others, claiming his own victimhood. The man who has so much, still, complaining about what he has lost, with no seeming interest in or regard for the people he has hurt along the way. It’s not merely a violation of Poe’s law ; it’s a much more basic affront. It suggests that empathy itself is a fair-weather attitude, fragile and tenuous and, in the end, inconvenient. Then: I will now step back and take a long time to listen. Now: You can get mad at me. Anyway.
It all makes for an especially petulant form of nihilism—and what’s especially tragic about the transformation is that it’s not at all isolated to Louis C.K. This period last year found many other people implicated in #MeToo expressing their regrets, seeming to take responsibility, and promising to do better. Harvey Weinstein said he would try to be better (“That is my commitment”). Kevin Spacey said he would be “examining my own behavior.” Charlie Rose said something similar. Mario Batali said . John Hockenberry said . Matt Lauer said .
A year later, however, the he saids that followed the she saids have been revealing themselves, again and again, to have been little more than empty performances . Charlie Rose and Matt Lauer and Mario Batali have been rumored to be staging comebacks . John Hockenberry wrote an essay in which he framed himself as a tragic hero, one deserving to play a key role in crafting a new cultural concept of romance. Kevin Spacey recently released a video in which, in character as Frank Underwood, he uttered the teasing line, “We’re not done, no matter what anyone says—and besides, I know what you want: You want me back.” Bill Shine, ousted from Fox News for his alleged efforts to cover up patterns of sexual abuse at the network, has been promoted to a job at the White House.
Earlier this month, another former Fox News executive, Ken LaCorte, announced that he would be establishing a new network. It will be helmed by Mike Oreskes, who was ousted from NPR last year after an investigation into repeated incidents of sexual harassment, and by John Moody, who left Fox in 2018 after writing a column that referred to the U.S. Olympic team as “darker, gayer, different.” As LaCorte put it to Politico , “I couldn’t have afforded either one of these guys had we not been in this crazy type of atmosphere … In a weird way, I’m actually a beneficiary of companies being hypersensitive.”
It’s all part of another old story: semi-apologies that, in time, nullify themselves. The status quo, reassembling to its familiar, fusty order. Louis C.K., who has been treating cruelty as a game since long before this year, seems to be hoping that he can benefit from “hypersensitivity” in a similarly warped way—and in his new brand of comedy are the contours of tragedy: lessons unlearned, abuses unaccounted for, the people who truly deserve their anger written, once again , out of the story. You could read C.K.’s evolution as a gradual loss of control, as a wayward id winning out over everything else. You could read it, as well, as something more strategic : a calculation that his core audience, now, is the red-pill crowd, with humor that is marketed accordingly. Either way, C.K. has reason to have confidence in his new brand of comedy: In person, his jokes about the inconveniences of empathy have been commonly met with laughter. And with enthusiastic applause.
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The Leaked Louis C.K. Set Is Tragedy Masked as Comedy

A little over a year ago, Louis C.K. published a statement in The New York Times , after several women had come forward to confirm the rumors that had, for years, been swirling around him . “These stories are true,” he wrote, expressing regret for several instances of sexual misconduct and suggesting that the acts being made public would be a turning point for him. His confession concluded with contrition: “I have spent my long and lucky career talking and saying anything I want,” C.K. wrote. “I will now step back and take a long time to listen.”
The statement was, for all its labored hand-wringing—a literary critic might think of it as foreshadowing—not an apology. It was instead, like so much of C.K.’s comedy, notably self-centered. In its nods toward introspection, though, the statement was marginally better than the half-hearted defenses offered by many other men of #MeToo, and so it was accommodated, in many quarters, with relief and a great deal of patience: Maybe he could learn. Maybe he could do better. Maybe he could find a way to make amends to the women whose persons he had disrespected and whose careers he had compromised. C.K., with more TK : Maybe. Maybe. Maybe.
But 2018 has been a year of hard truths, and here, just before the calendar turns its page to whatever fresh hell might lie in wait, is one more: C.K.’s promise to listen and learn, it seems, was itself a lie. On Sunday evening, instead, an audio recording of a recent appearance C.K. made, reportedly, at Long Island’s Governor’s comedy club leaked on YouTube. The set suggests that while C.K. may have been up to a lot of activities over the past year, listening and learning have not been among them.
In the set—one of many unscheduled appearances he has made as part of a quiet comeback—C.K. makes jokes about the word retarded . (He bemoans being unable to use the word as an apparent compromise on his freedom of self-expression.) He mocks the activist students of Parkland, Florida, who have been trying to convert a personal tragedy into social good. (“You’re not interesting because you went to a high school where kids got shot. Why does that mean I have to listen to you ? How does that make you interesting? You didn’t get shot, you pushed some fat kid in the way, and now I gotta listen to you talking?”) C.K. also mocks Asian men, and black men, and nonbinary people. (“‘You should address me as they/them , because I identify as gender neutral,’” C.K. says, dripping with sarcasm. “Oh, okay. Okay. You should address me as there , because I identify as a location. And the location is your mother’s cunt.”)
It’s the kind of comedy that is so lacking in depth or insight that it’s not worth examining, on its own, in any more detail. What’s notable, though, is the broader implication the new jokes represent for C.K.’s alleged efforts at redemption . Over the years, C.K.’s comedy evolved, as any comic’s will, but at their best and most well known, his jokes were about interrogating himself as a means of interrogating American culture. As C.K. shuffled uncomfortably on stages and sets, clad in rumpled T-shirts and slouchy dad jeans, he served as his own act’s useful idiot: C.K., author and character at once, played the privileged guy who—he’d be the first to admit it—didn’t fully deserve his privilege. It was classic observational humor, bending its lens to examine the warped terrain of C.K.’s own psyche, and while it was winking and postmodern and self-hating and self-elevating, it also contained an implied transaction: Hearing C.K.’s confession would offer, for his audience, its own kind of reconciliation. His performed selfishness could seem, in its twisted way, generous.
But while offense, in that sense, has always been an element of C.K.’s comedy—offense as a means of inflicting discomfort, and thus, the promise went, of illuminating awkward realities—offense, now, is all there is. The layer of alleged truth-telling is entirely missing from the new material. C.K.’s new set, according to its leaked version, doesn’t merely punch down; it stomps, pettily, to the bottom. None of it is smart or brave; it is simply cruel. And yet it tries to justify itself by suggesting that C.K. himself has been the recipient of cruelty. One of the key moments of the leaked set comes when someone, either by walking out or by shooting him a look, seems to question C.K. as he complains about being unable to use the word retarded . C.K. responds with a rant:
What’re you gonna take away my birthday? My life is over; I don’t give a shit. You can, you can be offended—it’s okay. You can get mad at me. Anyway.
It’s an old story: The guy who abused others, claiming his own victimhood. The man who has so much, still, complaining about what he has lost, with no seeming interest in or regard for the people he has hurt along the way. It’s not merely a violation of Poe’s Law ; it’s a much more basic affront. It suggests that empathy itself is a fair-weather attitude, fragile and tenuous and, in the end, inconvenient. Then: I will now step back and take a long time to listen. Now: You can get mad at me. Anyway.
It all makes for an especially petulant form of nihilism—and what’s especially tragic about the transformation is that it’s not at all isolated to Louis C.K. This period last year found many other people implicated in #MeToo expressing their regrets, seeming to take responsibility, and promising to do better. Harvey Weinstein said he would try to be better (“That is my commitment”). Kevin Spacey said he would be “examining my own behavior.” Charlie Rose said something similar. Mario Batali said . John Hockenberry said . Matt Lauer said .
A year later, however, the he saids that followed the she saids have been revealing themselves, again and again, to have been little more than empty performances . Charlie Rose and Matt Lauer and Mario Batali have been rumored to be staging comebacks . John Hockenberry wrote an essay in which he framed himself as a tragic hero, one deserving to play a key role in crafting a new cultural concept of romance. Kevin Spacey recently released a video in which, in character as Frank Underwood, he uttered the teasing line, “We’re not done, no matter what anyone says—and besides, I know what you want: You want me back.” Bill Shine, ousted from Fox News for his alleged efforts to cover up patterns of sexual abuse at the network, has been promoted to a job at the White House.
Earlier this month, another former Fox News executive, Ken LaCorte, announced that he would be establishing a new network. It will be helmed by Mike Oreskes, who was ousted from NPR last year after an investigation into repeated incidents of sexual harassment, and by John Moody, who left Fox in 2018 after writing a column that referred to the U.S. Olympic team as “darker, gayer, different.” As LaCorte put it to Politico , “I couldn’t have afforded either one of these guys had we not been in this crazy type of atmosphere … In a weird way, I’m actually a beneficiary of companies being hypersensitive.”
It’s all part of another old story: semi-apologies that, in time, nullify themselves. The status quo, reassembling to its familiar, fusty order. Louis C.K., who has been treating cruelty as a game since long before this year, seems to be hoping that he can benefit from “hypersensitivity” in a similarly warped way—and in his new brand of comedy are the contours of tragedy: lessons unlearned, abuses unaccounted for, the people who truly deserve their anger written, once again , out of the story. You could read C.K.’s evolution as a gradual loss of control, as a wayward id winning out over everything else. You could read it, as well, as something more strategic : a calculation that his core audience, now, is the red-pill crowd, with humor that is marketed accordingly. Either way, C.K. has reason to have confidence in his new brand of comedy: In person, his jokes about the inconveniences of empathy have been commonly met with laughter. And with enthusiastic applause.

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In memoriam: Notable figures lost in 2018

As 2018 draws to a close, Yahoo News looks back at those we lost this year. Join us in remembering a group that includes a former president, one of the greatest singers of all time and iconic actors, authors and directors.
John Young Photo: Ralph Morse/Life Picture Collection/Getty Images More An astronaut who walked on the moon and commanded the first space shuttle mission, Young died on Jan. 5 at age 87.
Jerry Van Dyke Photo: Universal, courtesy Everett Collection More The actor and younger brother of Dick Van Dyke was best known for his role of Luther Van Dam on “Coach.” He died Jan. 5 at age 86.
Dolores O’Riordan
Photo: Burak Akbulut/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images More The Irish lead singer of the Cranberries, known for hits that include “Zombie” and “Linger,” died Jan. 15 at age 46.
Ursula Le Guin Photo: M. Klimek/Bettmann/Getty Images More An acclaimed American novelist known for her work in fantasy and science fiction, Le Guin died Jan. 22 at age 88.
Hugh Masekela Photo: Christopher Bierlein/Redferns/Getty Images More A South African trumpeter, Masekela broke through in the United States with his 1968 No. 1 hit, “Grazing in the Grass.” He died on Jan. 23 at age 78.
John Mahoney Photo: Paul Drinkwater/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images More The Tony-winning actor, best known for his role as Martin Crane on “Frasier,” died Feb. 4 at age 77.
Lovebug Starski Photo: Johnny Nunez/WireImage/Getty Images More The D.J. and rapper —€” real name Kevin Smith — was a hip-hop pioneer. He died Feb. 8 at age 57.
Billy Graham Photo: PL Gould/IMAGES/Getty Images More The prominent evangelist and Southern Baptist minister who advised presidents for decades died on Feb. 21 at age 99.
Nanette Fabray Photo: Herb Ball/NBCU Photo Bank/Getty Images More American actress and singer Nanette Fabray won Tony and Emmy awards in her long career. She died on Feb. 22 at age 97.
Roger Bannister Photo: Bettmann/Getty Images More On May 6, 1954, Bannister, a British neurologist and runner, became the first athlete to run a mile in less than 4 minutes. He died March 3 at age 88.
Stephen Hawking Photo: David Parry/PA Wire via ZUMA Press More An English theoretical physicist and author, Hawking was a professor of mathematics at Cambridge who was known for his book “A Brief History of Time” and for his sustained endurance of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (Lou Gehrig’€™s disease), which he was diagnosed with in 1963. He died on March 14 at age 76.
Linda Brown Photo: Carl Iwasaki/Life Images Collection/Getty Images More As a schoolgirl, Brown was at the center of the landmark Supreme Court desegregation case Brown v. Board of Education. She died on March 25 at age 75.
Steven Bochco Photo: Brian Vanderbrug/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images More A television producer and writer, Bochco was a 10-time Emmy winner responsible for shows that included “Hill Street Blues, “L.A. Law” and “NYPD Blue.” He died on April 1 at age 74.
Winnie Mandela Photo: Siphiwe Sibeko/Reuters More The South African anti-apartheid activist and ex-wife of former president Nelson Mandela died April 2 at age 81.
Milos Forman Photo: Bernard Weil/Toronto Star via Getty Images More The Czech-American director who won Oscars for “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” and “Amadeus” died April 13 at age 86.
Harry Anderson Photo: Warner Bros. Television, courtesy Everett Collection More The actor who starred in “Night Court” and “Dave’s World” died on April 16 at age 65 of a stroke.
Barbara Bush Photo: Jason Reed/Reuters More The former first lady, wife of former President George H.W. Bush and mother of six — including former President George W. Bush — died at home on April 17 after a series of hospitalizations. She was 92.
Bruno Sammartino Photo: George Napolitano/MediaPunch /IPX/AP More The original WWE (then WWWF) champion — who held the belt for over 11 years — was one of the most popular wrestlers in the world. He died on April 18 at age 82.
Avicii Photo: Mike Pont/WireImage/Getty Images More The Swedish DJ and producer — real name Tim Bergling — was known for hits that included “Wake Me Up” and “Hey Brother.” He was found dead of an apparent suicide at age 28 on April 20.
Verne Troyer Photo: Matt Dunham/AP More The actor known for his role as Mini-Me in the “Austin Powers” series died on April 21 of alcohol poisoning, a coroner ruled. He was 49.
Margot Kidder Photo: Herbert Dorfman/Corbis via Getty Images More A Canadian-American actress and activist, Kidder was best known for her portrayal of Lois Lane opposite Christopher Reeve in the 1970s “Superman” film series. She died May 13 at age 69.
Tom Wolfe Photo: Ulf Andersen/Getty Images More The acclaimed new-journalism author of “Bonfire of the Vanities” and “The Right Stuff,” known for his trademark white suit, died May 14 at age 88.
Philip Roth Photo: Bob Peterson/Life Images Collection/Getty Images More The celebrated author, who won a Pulitzer Prize for his novel “American Pastoral,” died May 22 and age 85.
Jerry Maren Photo: Everett Collection More The last surviving munchkin from “The Wizard of Oz,” the Lollipop Guild member died on May 24 at age 98.
Kate Spade Photo: Wendy Maeda/Boston Globe via Getty Images More A world-famous designer known for her handbags and shoes, Spade died by suicide on June 5 at age 55.
Anthony Bourdain Photo: Mike Pont for Build Series More The beloved celebrity chef, author and travel television host was found dead in an apparent suicide in his hotel room in France on June 8. He was 61.
Eunice Gayson Photo: Sunset Boulevard/Corbis via Getty Images More The British actress was the very first Bond girl, appearing as Sylvia Trench in “Dr. No” and “From Russia With Love” opposite Sean Connery’s 007. She died on June 8 at age 90.
Joe Jackson Photo: Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images More The patriarch of the Jackson family and manager of the Jackson 5 died on June 27 at age 89.
Adrian Cronauer Photo: Bettmann/Getty Images More The inspiration for Robin Williams’s character in “Good Morning, Vietnam,” the Air Force veteran and disc jockey died July 18 at age 79.
Elbert Howard Photo: David Fenton/Getty Images More A co-founder of the Black Panther Party and the group’s spokesman through much of the ’60s and ’70s, Howard died July 23 at age 80.
Charlotte Rae Photo: Paul Drinkwater/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images More The actress known for her role as Edna Garrett in “Diff’rent Strokes” and “The Facts of Life” died on Aug. 5 at age 92.
V. S. Naipaul Photo: Frederic Reglain/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images More The Trinidadian-British writer known for his work analyzing colonialism was knighted in 1990 and won the Nobel Prize for literature in 2001. He died Aug. 11 at age 85.
Aretha Franklin Photo: David Redfern/Redferns/Getty Images More One of America’s most popular singers of the 20th century, the “œQueen of Soul” was known for hits such as “Respect,” “Chain of Fools” and “Think.” Rolling Stone magazine ranked her the greatest singer of all time in 2010. She died Aug. 16 at age 76.
Kofi Annan Photo: Noor Khamis/Reuters More The former U.N. secretary-general and Nobel Peace Prize winner died on Aug. 18 after a short illness. He was 80.
Robin Leach Photo: Donaldson Collection/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images More The host of “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous” died Aug. 24 at age 76.
John McCain Photo: Mary Altaffer/AP More The Vietnam War veteran, U.S. senator for Arizona and 2008 Republican candidate for president died of brain cancer on Aug. 25 at 81.
Neil Simon Photo: Ken Hively/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images More The playwright, screenwriter and author was one of the most honored writers in American history, earning Tonys, an Emmy, a Pulitzer and the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor. He died Aug. 26 at age 91.
Burt Reynolds Photo: Terry Disney/Express/Getty Images More The beloved actor was known for roles ranging from “Smokey and the Bandit” and “Cannonball Run” to “Deliverance” and “œBoogie Nights,” for which he earned an Oscar nomination. He died on Sept. 6 at age 82.
Mac Miller Photo: Chelsea Lauren/WireImage/Getty Images More The popular rapper and record producer — real name Malcolm McCormick — was known for working through his history of substance abuse in his lyrics, as well as for a feud with Donald Trump over his song of the same name. He died Sept. 7 at age 26.
Jamal Khashoggi Photo: Mohammed Al-Shaikh/AFP/Getty Images More The Saudi Arabian journalist and Washington Post contributor was killed on Oct. 2. He was 59.
Paul Allen Photo: Elaine Thompson/AP More The billionaire Microsoft co-founder, philanthropist and owner of the Portland Trail Blazers and Seattle Seahawks died of cancer on Oct. 15. He was 65.
Whitey Bulger Photo: FBI via AP More The former head of Boston’s Winter Hill Gang and a convicted murderer, Bulger — real name James Joseph Bulger Jr. — was killed in a West Virginia prison on Oct. 30 at age 89.
Stan Lee Photo: Evan Hurd/Sygma/Corbis via Getty Images More The face of Marvel comics co-created some of the most popular superheroes and gained even more recognition later in life for his cameos in the popular Marvel movies. He died Nov. 12 at age 95.
Roy Clark Photo: Kirk West/Getty Images More The country singer and host of the long-running television show “Hee Haw” died Nov. 15 at age 85.
William Goldman Photo: Terry O’Neill/Iconic Images/Getty Images More The novelist and screenwriter won Oscars for “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid” and “All the President’s Men.” He died on Nov. 16 at age 87.
Ricky Jay Photo: Aaron Rapoport/Corbis/Getty Images More The actor, author and master showman-magician known for his role in “Boogie Nights” and for his sleight-of-hand skills died on Nov. 24. He was 72.
Bernardo Bertolucci Photo: Neal Ulevich/AP More The Oscar-winning director of “œThe Last Emperor,” “The Conformist” and “Last Tango in Paris” died of lung cancer on Nov. 26. He was 77.
Stephen Hillenburg Photo: Anacleto Rapping/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images More The creator of the Nickelodeon animated television series “SpongeBob SquarePants” died on Nov. 26 of complications from ALS. He was 57.
George H.W. Bush Photo: David Hume Kennerly/Getty Images More The 41st president of the United States and 43rd vice president, who had a lifelong career in public service, died on Nov. 30 of complications from Parkinson’s disease. He was 94.
Ken Berry Photo: Courtesy Everett Collection More The actor known for his roles on “F Troop,” “Mayberry R.F.D.” and “Mama’s Family” died Dec. 1 at age 85.
Pete Shelley Photo: Gus Stewart/Redferns/Getty Images More The punk pioneer and lead singer of the band Buzzcocks died Dec. 6 at age 63.
Penny Marshall Photo: Kevin Winter/ImageDirect/Getty Images More A Hollywood fixture, Penny Marshall starred in the hit sitcom “Laverne & Shirley” before transitioning to directing films such as “Big” and “A League of Their Own.” She died Dec. 18 at age 75.
Richard Overton Photo: REX/Shutterstock More The supercentarian was the oldest man in the United States and the oldest surviving U.S. World War II veteran. He died on Dec. 27 at age 112.
Amos Oz Photo: Dan Balilty/AP More The acclaimed Israeli author, known worldwide for a collection of novels, essays and a well-received memoir, chronicled more than half a century of life in Israel. He died of cancer on Dec. 28 at age 79.
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